In the summer of 1995, as American girl group TLC’s “Waterfalls” dominated the charts in the US, a new operating system was unleashed on the world. Windows 95 was released 20 years ago today (Aug. 24). There was a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign using the Rolling Stones’s “Start Me Up” to introduce the world to Windows 95, but 20 years on, another promotional video by Microsoft seems like the one worth revisiting.
The launch video, dubbed a “cyber-sitcom,” is dripping with ’90s nostalgia—replete with bass guitar riffs and teal suits worn with white t-shirts—shows young Friends stars Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry being led through what is apparently Bill Gates’s own personal copy of Windows 95. The two co-stars are shown running through a variety of new features in Windows 95 with a cast of characters who apparently frequent Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington, headquarters, including an Eastern European window washer, a Chinese food delivery guy, and Bill Gates-lookalikes from the mailroom.
The video shows new features of Windows 95 that we take for granted today, like multitasking, right-clicking, being able to have filenames longer than eight characters or being able to recover files from the recycle bin. The pair manage to edit a spreadsheet, write a poem to Gates, and even order Chinese food via the computer’s fax machine. Aniston calls copy-pasting a file “trippy.”
As Microsoft rolls out Windows 10 to slightly less fanfare than 95, it’s unlikely that 20 years from now, we’ll be looking back on any launch footage with the same calibre of humor. Well, probably not, anyway.